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Siege of Shushtar
Part of Muslim conquest of Persia
Shushtar Waster Structure1.jpg
Picture of the remains of Sasanian architecture in Shushtar
Date641-642
LocationShushtar, Khuzestan, Iran
Result Arab victory
Belligerents
Sasanian Empire
Asawira (?)
Rashidun Caliphate
Asawira (?)
Commanders and leaders
Hormuzan  (POW)
Siyah al-Uswari (?)
Abu Musa Ashaari
Al-Nu'man
Siyah al-Uswari (?)
Casualties and losses
Heavy Low

The Siege of Shushtar occurred from 641 to 642, during the Muslim conquest of Persia. The siege lasted eighteen months and ended with the city's fall to the Rashidun Arabs.

Background

In 633, the Rashidun Arabs invaded the territories of the Byzantine and Sasanian Empire. By 637, the Arabs were in possession of the Sasanian capital Ctesiphon, all of Iraq, and large parts of Syria. One year later, they invaded the rich Sasanian province Khuzestan, which was part of the domains of the Iranian aristocrat Hormuzan, who had following the fall of Ctesiphon retreated to Hormizd-Ardashir, which he used as his base in his raids in Meshan against the Arabs.[1] The Sasanian king Yazdegerd III (r. 632-651) supported him in these raids, and believed that it was possible to regain the territories which had been taken by the Arabs.[2]

Hormuzan was eventually defeated and asked for peace, which the Arabs accepted to in return of tribute. However, Hormuzan soon broke the peace by stop paying tributes, but was once again defeated, while the cities of Khuzestan were slowly one by one seized. Sometime later in 641, after a defeat Ram-Hormizd, Hormuzan fled to Shushtar, and was defeated near the city, but nevertheless managed to reach it, while 900 of his men were killed, and 600 were captured and would later be executed.[3] The Arabs then laid siege to the city.

The Siege

Fortunately for Hormuzan, Shushtar was well fortified due to the rivers and canals that surrounded it on almost all sides. One of them was known as Ardashiragan, named after the first Sasanian king Ardashir I (r. 224-240). Another known as Shamiram, named after the legendary Assyrian Queen Semiramis. The last one mentioned was known as Darayagan, named after the Achaemenid king Darius I (r. 550–486 BCE).[4] There are several versions of the how the city got captured; according to al-Tabari, during the siege, an Iranian defector named Sina (or Sinah) went to al-Nu'man and pleaded for his life to be spared in return for helping him how to show a way into the city. Al-Nu'man agreed, and Sina told him the following thing; "attack via the outlet of the water, and then you will conquer the city."[5]

Al-Nu'man did as he told him, and with a small portion of his army, charged into Shushtar. Hormuzan then retreated to the citadel and continued his resistance, but was eventually forced to surrender.[6][5] According to another version written in the Khuzestan Chronicle, similar to the version by al-Tabari, a defector from Qatar, along with another person, asked the Arabs for some of their plunder in exchange of how to enter the city. The Arabs agreed, and after some time, they managed to enter the city.[4] According to al-Baladhuri, during the siege, the Arabs were reinforced with a group of professional Iranian elites under Siyah al-Uswari, known as the Asawira.[7]

The reason for their defection was in order to preserve their status and wealth. However, according to the Khuzestan Chronicle, the Asawira first defected to the Arabs after they entered Shushtar. The brother of Hormuzan, Shahriyar, is said to have been a part of the Asawira.[7] According to Pourshariati, the story of the Asawira helping the Arabs in their conquest of Khuzestan, may have been false.[8]

Aftermath

After his defeat, Hormuzan was taken captive by the Arabs and sent to their capital Medina, while the Arabs continued their invasions into Persia. Hormuzan, after being threatened to choose between death and Islam, converted to Islam.[9] Hormuzan was later suspected as being part of the assassination of the Rashidun caliph Umar, and was put to death.[6] By 651, most of Persia was under the control of the Arabs, and Yazdegerd III had been assassinated under the orders of his servant Mahoe Suri, an aristocrat from the Suren family, who served as the governor (marzban) of Merv, a powerful Sasanian stronghold. In 654, all of Persia was under the possession of the Arabs.

References

  1. Morony 2005, p. 193.
  2. Zarrinkub 1975, p. 14.
  3. Jalalipour 2014, p. 9.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Jalalipour 2014, p. 10.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Jalalipour 2014, p. 8.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Zarrinkub 1975, p. 15.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Jalalipour 2014, pp. 12-13.
  8. Pourshariati 2008, p. 240.
  9. Pourshariati 2008, p. 238.

Sources

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